Coach takes Qatari Emir to court
A French coach has brought a case against the Emir of Qatar after he was prevented from leaving the Gulf state following a row over unpaid wages.
In a case similar to that of French-born midfielder Zahir Belounis, Stephane Morello was denied an exit visa by the Qatari authorities for nearly five years before he was finally able to leave the country in November last year.
"An official complaint has today been made to the financial sector of the Paris court in the name of our client Stephane Morello against the National Olympic Committee in the person of his Highness Sheikh Al-Thani for fraud, working conditions contrary to human dignity, and attempted extortion," lawyer Franck Berton told RTL on Wednesday.
With Qatari law requiring a sponsor for any foreigner wishing to work in the country, Morello, 52, had been recruited by Al Shahaniya Sports Club in 2007 under the tutelage of the Qatari National Olympic Committee -- headed at the time by Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, who became Qatari Emir in June 2013.
Morello's legal representatives claim their client was paid for 12 months from the summer of 2007 until his contract was unilaterally ended by the club, and he was not paid for three months.
Another Qatari club, Al Shamal, then employed him as of Oct. 22, 2008, only to stop all payments as of December the same year.
When Morello asked for what was owed to him, he was told he could not leave the country and was asked to repay 250,000 euros to the National Olympic Committee for his housing, which had been stipulated in his contract.
It was not until October 2013 when Morello signed a paper acknowledging his debt, reportedly in the presence of members of the French embassy in Qatar, that he was able to change sponsor and obtain an exit visa.